President Paula-Mae Weekes must act in accordance with the law and send the merit list of nominees for the position of Commissioner of Police (CoP) to Parliament for debate.
That is the view of former Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman Professor Ramesh Deosaran who said if, as reported, the previous PSC properly sent its merit list of nominees for CoP to the President, the next prescribed step is for the President to send the list to Parliament for debate.
“However, while an applicant, Mr Anand Ramesar, has filed for judicial review over the PSC’s decision to leave him out of the submitted merit list, a decision is soon to be made on that. We wait and see,” he said.
Deosaran said he blames the political authorities for what happened.
“Whatever mistakes the PSC chairman and the members have recently made, some blame must also be put upon the administrative and legislative framework in which they are obliged to function,” he said.
“While we might blame the PSC members in one way or another, there is also the related matter of political responsibility, that is the apparent unwillingness to reform the PSC. At some time, too, the former PSC chairman Bliss Seepersad should explain the circumstances that led to her resignation so as to help energise the reforms required.”
Deosaran said he feels some sympathy for the President in her “desperate search” for right and willing persons to serve as PSC commissioners: “I am not sure how many such independent professionals will be willing to have their background and character, as good as it may be, exposed for political debate in parliament.”
When asked to comment on the matter political scientist Dr Hamid Ghany pointed out: “Section 4 of the Legal Notice 183 of 2021 was expunged and read as follows: Where either the post of Commissioner of Police or Deputy Commissioner of Police is vacant or is about to become vacant, the Commission may submit to the President a list of suitably qualified persons from amongst the ranks of the Police Service, including those on contract or previously on contract, as nominees to act in the offices of Commissioner of Police or Deputy Commissioner of Police, pending the conclusion of the procedure prescribed in paragraph 3.”
He described Kangaloo’s modification of her ruling a few hours after delivering her oral judgement as “judicial sloppiness.”
“In a very high-profile case with the entire society looking on the judge got her own order so editorially wrong. Hopefully, there was no political pressure to change the order. We moved in a few hours from the entire Legal Notice 183 of 2021 being unconstitutional and void to only paragraph 4 of the Legal Notice 183 of 2021 being ‘superfluous and hereby struck out’.”
However, Senior Counsel Israel Khan defended the chain of events last Thursday and maintained that there was no “legal sloppiness.”
“I think they were under pressure and in order to give the judgement, the judge made a slip and lawyers wrote to her. The judge rightfully corrected the judgement,” he said.
Khan said once the PSC is fully constituted the next move is for the President to consult with the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister and make the appointment of the next CoP.
“When the President makes her statement we will know if she received the list. If she really did receive the list and there was political interference this is a damaging blow to the independence of the Police Service Commission and the Office of the President.”
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley did not respond to requests for comment on the issue.